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The Workings of a Work of Wool Workshop!

'The Workings of a Work of Wool workshop'. My inner grammarian is a little bit excited about managing to include the same root word three times in one sentence without it actually constituting tautology.

Last weekend I facilitated my second Work of Wool Workshop and I thought it might be fun to share with you how it actually works (look I worked it in again!).

Okay, I'll stop.

Montessori Aotearoa New Zealand (MANZ) asked me to facilitate a two day workshop for teachers and assistants in the lovely Silverstream Retreat in New Zealand. There were twenty four participants, which gave it a much more intimate feel than the previous workshop of 90! This meant we got to go a little further with our exploration and I was able to help people go in different directions with their work, producing a great variety of lesson ideas and products.

We made spindles and spun wool:

Some people worked together to ply and finish their yarn whilst others were keen to get to grips with the spinning wheel:

We made needles and learned to knit, then we made crochet hooks and learned to crochet:

We explored needle felting:

......and wet felting:

The smaller class also meant that people were able to share stories of their own experiences with the group. One participant told her story of helping her grandmother extract the precious lanolin from wool as a child. She said they would boil the raw fleece, then skim the fat from the water to make into soaps which were saved for special occasions and gifts. Guess what we'll be doing in class next week?!

Of course each workshop is a little different but the general format is the same. We make tools for, and explore a variety crafts through stories and discussion, but mainly through doing.

When I introduce a craft to adults, I do it a little backwards. With children, I would begin with the origin stories and theory, but on workshops we jump straight in to making the tools and getting stuck into the craft.

Once everyone is working, I go back to the beginning of the chapter - telling the stories and discussing the theory. I do this create as much hands on time as possible.

The general consensus is that people really appreciate all this time. So often I have attended workshops where I am inspired by all sorts of brilliant ideas but then go straight back the the day-to-day workings of school life and don't have time to do the work to implement the new strategies.

I really want people to leave my workshops feeling like they can start this work in their classrooms the very next day, so we spend lots of time exploring testing and perfecting. We don't need to reach mastery (who ever does?) but we need to be confident enough to continue our explorations with our students.

We all left the workshop exhausted - but with so many new ideas and lessons ready to present. So you can imagine how happy it made me at school this week when children from other classes kept appearing at my door asking if had sandpaper, felting needles or other ingredients from my workshop, as their teachers had a special new lesson to show them!

Viva la Handwork revolution!

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